WHITLEY COUNTY — Questa Education Foundation recently announced 71 new scholars in the Traditional Scholars program.

From Whitley County are, including the high school they graduated from, college attending and major of interest:

• Ryan Branning, home-schooled, Grace College, health sciences

• Hannah Porter, Whitko High School, Grace College, undecided

• Angelica Moyer, Whitko High School, Huntington University, youth ministry

• Jaylen Hull, Columbia City High School, Purdue Fort Wayne, criminal justice

These students have recently graduated from high school and will be entering college this fall as freshmen. Through the Questa Scholars program, scholars will be given low-interest forgivable loans to help reduce their college debt.

Each of the scholars has unique stories and important aspirations. Questa wants to invest in these learners to help them graduate with less debt, explore their passions, and become the talent needed to improve the local economy.

Questa’s goal is to help with the talent gap. One of its scholars from Burma, now a Fort Wayne resident, shared how she felt when she found out she was accepted as a Questa Scholar.

“I am very blessed to be chosen as a Questa Scholar. This program allows me to continue my education with an understanding that many of my financial burdens are lighter because of the forgivable loan program that Questa offers. I feel that I will be able to manage my financial situation better.” Naw Sar Do graduated from North Side High School and plans to attend IU Bloomington to study physics. Her plans are to move back to the northeast Indiana area upon graduation to represent the Burmese community in the health-care field and to be a link to those who do not have access to health care.

Student loan debt has surpassed national credit card debt, reaching $1.21 trillion, and Questa’s goal is to reduce the debt that scholars have upon graduation. Questa scholars graduate with less debt and receive forgivable loans that are easy to pay off.

Its one-of-a-kind funding provides the possibility of receiving loan forgiveness for as much as 75 percent of the total loan amount. By attending a partner school, students will receive 25 percent forgiveness, and an additional 50 percent forgiveness by living and working in the area for five years after graduation.

Questa scholars that have graduated are becoming the talent the area needs for a thriving economy. Of the students who have graduated in the Questa Scholars program, 80 percent are graduating in four years compared with the national average of 59 percent.

In addition, more than 70 percent are either staying or return to live and work in the region. The result of the Questa program is, in fact, talent retained in the communities.

A scholar from Whitley County, and a recent graduate from Purdue Fort Wayne, Ali McQueen shared how Questa helped her through her education.

“During my senior year of high school, I knew that my four years of college were going to be paid for out of my own pocket. I decided to apply for the Questa program, and now I only owe a small portion of the full loan. It puts me at ease knowing I am not going to be in debt from my college loans for years and years to come.”

McQueen plans to give back to her community through her elementary education degree, and to be a positive influence in young lives in the area.

Traditional students, as mentioned above, drive only one part of Questa’s strategy. Individuals who did not complete an education, but are already in the workforce, can also be the talent needed with more education or training. Industry certifications, associate, and bachelor degrees are all ways to access livable wage jobs.

How can one help? Become a partner with Questa and help by providing funds for current and future talent needs. The support of funders and donors is vital for Questa to be able to carry out this mission. Find out more about the forgivable loan programs and how to partner with Questa at questafoundation.org or call (260) 407-6494.